Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 18.104.22.168
(I changed the actual ID for publication here)
Well, that seemed odd, because we filter requests by user-agent (Googlbot, Slurp, bot, etc) and don't generate session-IDs for spiders. So I went through the log to find the first time that this SessionID had shown up, as this would be the time it was generated. To my surprise, I found:
sv-fw.looksmart.com - - [08/Oct/2003:13:53:28 -0400] "GET /index.php?session_id=2106002191ad2fee7a94178dbb33deac HTTP/1.1" 200 31238 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0; T312461; YComp 22.214.171.124)"
So our script had generated a sessionID for Looksmart because it didn't have a user-agent that looked like a spider. It looks like a user.
1. Has anyone else noticed this?
2. I suppose this could be to avoid cloaking, but there are legitimate reasons to be detecting spiders (such as mine).
3. Is the only alternative to try and filter by IP addresses of known spiders... which will be quite a headache to keep up with...?
(in case anyone is curious, I found that T312461 is an IE security update)
Are they really finding sites by person and inserting into the directory? Seems terribly inefficient.
I'd do three things: First, contact Looksmart directory and request that the link be corrected. Second, temporarily patch your scipt to recognize and ignore that particular session ID, so you can assign a new one to real visitors that follow one of these messed-up links. Third, temporarily patch your script to check the requestor's IP address against Looksmart's IP block, and don't assign sessions for those requests. You could check the sv-fw.looksmart.com hostname instead, but that is slower and may not work all the time.
You can remove the first patch when they fix the link, and the second patch when you are sure this was a human editor error, and not some new project robot.
Really messy problem... This is a good example of why cloaking is so tough!
I'd recommend becoming a Zeal Contributor. It's not really that hard. All you have to do is register, then pass the Member Quiz. If you do it, then you get the points for the edit, plus you get some experience with the Zeal/LookSmart way of doing things.
I could do the edit for you, but I think it would be better in the long run for you to be a member so that if the same thing happens again, you'll already know what to do.